Steven Donziger was convicted of contempt of court in October after battling with Chevron over pollution in Ecuador.
Nine United States legislators have called on the Justice Department to release environmental lawyer Steven Donziger, who spent decades battling Chevron Corp over pollution in Ecuador’s rainforest, and on a criminal contempt conviction in October Was sentenced to six months in prison.
In a letter on Monday, nine Democratic members of the US House of Representatives, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to take “immediate action.”
They noted that Donziger was jailed on charges of “petty contempt of court” stemming from his non-compliance in a lawsuit filed by Chevron, suggesting that the DoJ was partly in his targeting by the oil giant. confused with.
“The case has shocked the worldwide community of environmental justice and human rights advocates and creates a distinct chilling effect on this type of advocacy going forward,” the letter said.
— Congressman Chuy Garcia (@RepChuyGarcia) November 30, 2021
The letter said, “Since the United States is a party to the District Court case against Mr. Donziger, we request that you take immediate action to regain control of the case, dismiss the charges and grant Mr. Donziger his Release from imprisonment.”
US District Judge Loretta Presca found Donziger guilty in May of “deliberately” disobeying court orders, including failing to turn on her computer and other equipment.
Donziger represented villagers in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region, who sought to hold Chevron liable for water and soil contamination by Texaco—which was acquired by the company in 2000—between 1964 and 1992. Donziger won a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadorian court. 2011.
In 2014, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in favor of Chevron, overturning Ecuador’s decision, saying it was secured through fraud. Donziger was later barred from practicing law in New York.
He was placed under house arrest in 2019 while awaiting trial on charges of contempt of court.
A panel of human rights experts commissioned by the United Nations said on 30 September that Donziger’s house arrest violated international civil rights law and recommended his release.
In their letter, legislators said the Biden administration should “send a clear signal that it stands with the communities harmed by pollution and environmental destruction and that lawyers have courage enough to represent them, not corporations that have.” Along with those who benefit from polluting the water, air and land of the local people”.